Self-help for trauma victims: my way

After spending years in traditional therapy and even more years reading self-help books, I finally realized something: when it comes to designing or changing one’s life, trauma victims are not like non-traumatized people.

How? Let me count some of the ways, using myself as an example:

1. I have virtually no understanding of this idea that I can, in fact, change my life.

2. I cannot relate to the notion that my life, and how it is, is a result of choices I made, because most of the choices I made were completely influenced by the trauma/PTSD. They weren’t my choices; they were “trauma’s” choices.

3. I cannot uncover my passions by doing assignments with lists and so forth. I have trouble keeping a bead on my own inner voice for more than 30 seconds at a time, because I’ve been so conditioned to be aware of people and things outside of myself.

4. I don’t know what I really want. My personal period of self-discovery was cut off before I even had a chance to start, at age 22. So don’t ask me what I really want, because I have no idea.

I could continue writing this list until Christmas. What I learned through the right kind of therapy — and it was right because a) I had a great DV therapist and b) because I was ready for it — is that I have to stop listening to the self-help gurus. It’s great that they can help other people. But they can’t help me.

And you know what? I’m not going to complain about it. Do I wish I were like non-traumatized people who can follow a step-by-step process for reinventing themselves? Of course. I would give anything to not be a traumatized person. I can’t even imagine what my life might have been like. I could have been a published author, or a music history professor at a great university. I might have been a successful lawyer or public speaker.

I’m none of those things. I’ve barely managed to keep my head above water, emotionally, financially and every other way, for the 30 years since I was first raped by my ex-husband.

What I need is a new way to actually LIVE, because I have spent 30 years existing, not living. And now that I’m 51 years old, I have no time to waste.

Can I find fulfillment through my new adventures in fiction writing? I don’t know, but I’m going to keep at it.

I’m also going to do self-help my own way. Stay tuned to this blog to find out what that is.

2 thoughts on “Self-help for trauma victims: my way”

    1. Thank you, Barbara. I don’t know how to be anything else. All I really want is for what I write to help another person realize she isn’t crazy — that her reactions to what happened to her are completely normal. Painful and terrible, yes, but normal. Thanks again for all your support.

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